Norwegians in the NHL: Martinsen in second year with Avalanche
The Norwegian American
As a young boy growing up in Bærum, Norway, Andreas Martinsen didn’t play hockey—his life was all about soccer, in fact. It wasn’t until the coach at his sister’s hockey practice asked him if he wanted to give it a shot that he even considered trying it. And now he’s glad he did; he quickly fell in love with the sport and has become one of only eight Norwegians to ever compete in the NHL.
Following an incredible third season with German club Düsseldorfer EG, when he scored 18 goals in 55 games, the Norwegian signed a one-year two-way contract as an undrafted free agent with the Colorado Avalanche on May 15, 2015.
The forward began the season with San Antonio Rampage, the team’s affiliate AHL farm team. On November 8, he was recalled to the Avalanche. When he made his NHL debut on Nov. 10 against the Philadelphia Flyers, Martinsen became one of only two Norwegians currently competing in the NHL, joining Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers.
“Back home hockey is growing, especially with the way Zuccarello is playing—one of the best players in the league for the moment,” Martinsen said to the Denver Post. “Hockey is getting more and more attention, and now there’s two guys over here. It’s a big thing for the whole country, hockey wise, and I think it’s really creating more interest. There’s been a lot of messages, a lot of phone calls. People are excited and happy for me.”
When he scored on Nov. 21 against the Washington Capitals, he then became only the fifth from Norway to get a goal in the league.
Martinsen struggled to play consistently throughout the season, but he showed motivation and improvement while playing for the Avalanche and surprised many by competing in so many games; he finished the season with four goals and seven assists in 55 games.
“His season has progressed much better than I had expected. I’ll be honest. I did not think Andreas would persevere in the NHL as he has done. It is nothing other than impressive,” said TV 2’s hockey expert Bjørn Erevik to VG.
Whether or not the Norwegian’s contract with the Avalanche would be extended for another season was still unknown, however.
“It is always in the back of your mind that you can be kicked off the team or sent down a level if you are not performing. Mentally you can get pretty exhausted, but I have become more and more a part of the team and hang out with the boys in my spare time. My dream is to be offered a one-way contract,” he said to VG in April.
And in June, that dream came true. As a restricted free agent, Martinsen signed to a one-year one-way contract extension, meaning that he will get paid his full salary regardless of whether he stays with the Avalanche or is moved down to the AHL again.
Now with a new coach, Canadian Jared Bednar, and a new season underway, 26-year-old Martinsen knows that he needs to prove himself if he’s going to have a future in the league.
“This will be an incredibly important season for me. Now I must prove that I am an NHL player and worth this contract. I cannot be satisfied,” he said to VG.
Even though Martinsen comes from a country where the love for soccer (and skiing) outweighs an interest in hockey, he still had the belief that he could make it to the NHL.
“For me, my goal was always to make it to the NHL from when I was young. I think because I always had that goal and believed in that, that’s how I got here. It was a long way and I had a lot of bumps I had to get over,” he said to BSNDenver.com. “I always believed I was going to make it one day and, you know, once you are you just want to stay.”
Will Martinsen be able to live up to his goals and thrive in the NHL? Only time will tell. To follow along, be sure to tune in to the 2016/17 season with the Colorado Avalanche.
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 4, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.